EVENTS

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The 43rd International Boat Show is at Earls Court Exhibition Centre, Warwick Road, London SW5 (01733 890187) to 12 Jan

The International Model Show and the Model Engineer Exhibition, Olympia, Hammersmith Rd, London W14 (0171-373 8141) ends today

SHOWING OFF IN 1997

Now is the time to throw off last year's unfulfilled resolutions and replace them with a whole new bunch. But instead of the usual impossible aspirations, personality make-overs and insane health and fitness regimes, why not simply resolve to be an exhibitionist?

The coming weeks offer plenty of opportunities to practise your new role with Olympia's Boat Show and International Model Show, the Holiday Show in Manchester, and a Road Racing and Superbike Show at Alexandra Palace. There's even a Lingerie Show, but you'll have to wait until next month for that.

ETIQUETTE

In the post-Christmas cash crisis, many people will be wary of emptying their bank accounts still further with new purchases, but you don't have to be loaded to enjoy a good show, since being an exhibitions expert basically involves eyeballing a lot of large-scale consumer durables.

Today is the last day of the International Model Show at Olympia, where punters can get their hands on gleaming mini racing cars and radio-controlled boats, or find out about the latest modelling crazes such as "Helicopter Football".

Even the most strapped among you can always fork out for entry to the Holiday Show and then simply dream your way through stalls of luxury "breaks" and Caribbean cruises.

THE BOAT SHOW

First held at Olympia in 1954, The Boat Show is the place to get a glossy yacht to weigh anchor outside your (second) ideal home. It's one of the oldest and best of the shows.

FEATURES IN 1997

This year the centre of the exhibition hall has been transformed into a Mediterranean marina where some of the show's 800 craft will be docked. Elsewhere, stroll around stalls selling everything from engines and insurance to clothing specially designed for watersports.

LARGEST BOAT

The biggest vessel at Olympia this year is the gargantuan Princess, 21 metres of ship-shape sea craft which you can pick up for a cool million.

CHEAPEST CRAFT

The modestly-named Heyland Tadpole is the smallest boat on display, a tiny 6ft dinghy with a price tag of pounds 297.

SETTING SAIL

If you're a complete novice, head along to the daily "Start Boating" seminars which offer advice on everything from knot-tying to power boats. They'll even tell you how to set about entering that round-the- world yacht race you resolved to win last New Year and never quite got around to...

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